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The Distinction between APOSTLES,
ELDERS, and BRETHREN.
HE appellation of apostles, elders,
and brethren, occur often separately in the New Testament; and the famous letter mentioned Acts xv. 23. going from them jointly (as comprehending the whole church at Jerusalem) to the brethren which were of the Gentiles, in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia; and it being of such consequence to the right understanding the New Testament, to undera stand the character of an apostle; and of so much difficulty to understand what is meant by an elder in this text: and it being impossible to know what is meant by brethren without understanding what is meant by the other two: I have thought it might be of some use to consider each of them by themselves: and then briefly to consider the state of the church at that time, as far as their VOL. II.
acting together on this occasion will open it unto us. By which we may better
comprehend not only what is meant by each of these characters, but what was the state of the christian church, in the early times of the apostles.
The first time we meet with the name of apostles, is Luke vi. 129 13. “ And it came « to pass in those days, that Jesus went into “ a mountain to pray, and continued all night " in prayer to God; and when it was day,
he called unto him his disciples, and of " them he chose twelve, whom he also nam“ ed apostles:" designing to send them to preach the kingdom of God. Our Saviour praying all night before his choice (or spending the whole night“ in an house of prayer"), might perhaps be directed by God, whom to :choose: for::this high and important office: -- for Jefus:fàys in his prayer to God, speaking ::of ylic wélye, “ those that thou hast given
üre have kept a." And Peter declares, the witnefles to whom Christ Thewed him“ self openly, were chosen of God b;" and for this reason St. Paul, who was not one whit behind the chiefeft of the apostles, calls himself “ an apostle of God,” as well as of Christ, in moft of his epistles o: and asserts,
b Acts X. 41:
John xvii. 6. 9. 12. ci Cor. i. 1. 2 Cor.1.1, Gal. i. 1. Eph. i. i. Col. i. 1. i Tim. i. 1, 2 Tim.i. 1. Tit. i. I.
that “God had separated him for this work 6 from his mother's womb d;" (alluding to his separation, as a Pharisee, that pretended to be separated from the rest of mankind by their greater sanctity): as he likewise says, that Ananias told him, “that the God of our “ fathers had chosen hime." Some time after Jesus had chosen his twelve disciples, “ He called them together, and gave
them power and authority over all devils, and to 6 cure diseases, and sent them to preach the
kingdom of God, and heal the fick f." Mark gives us much the same account of Christ's choosing them 8; and Matthew and Mark of Christ's sending them h; but Matthew takes no notice of Christ's choo-. sing them.
Thus however we see they were to go “ and preach the kingdom of . « God :” or at least to preack the kingdom of God so far as to say 6 it was at: bandi And therefore as John Baptift
. had :only: preached, that “ the kingdom of heaven":(ói the kingdom that God was setting up in the world under Christ, the kingdom foretold by Daniel", understood by the Jews, and expected by the world, as Mr. Sykes has with great labour and skill proved to be the mean,
d Gal. i. 15.
Matt. X. 1.
e Acts xxii. 14.
8 Mark iii. 13-16. Mark vi. 7-12
k Dan, vii. 13, 14,
ing of this, and the like phrases, in every text
he afterwards instructed them in, Thy kingdom come n;" and he not only taught, but (as John did) baptized men into the faith 6 that the Messiah was to be made 6 manifesto; or, that the kingdom of heaven
was at hand p.” It is at least most probable, that when Christ baptized by his disciples 9, he baptized men into the same faith that John Baptist did: for it cannot be supposed, that he ordered his disciples to baptize them into his own name, as the Messiah, when he never published that he was the Melliah. himfelfs ånd forbid his disciples to diviige it* till:
Hie was risen from the dead .. Wie naay better understand what the apostles were: cammilloned to preach, by what St. Marke: iifolias us of the manner in which they executed that commission; which was by “ going out, and preaching that men " should repent.
Or we may put the account of the commission and of the execution together: and then it will be, that Jesus sent
i Matt. ji. I.
m Ibid. iv. 17.
9. John iii. 22.